Hello everyone, and welcome back!
I was lucky enough to get my hands on A Court of Wings and Ruin prior to the release date—which happens to be today! So I thought I’d share a few tidbits on the book since I’ve already had a chance to read it. As spoiler-free as we can be, as is usual here—even though it’s hecka tricky to do for the last book in a series.
1. The fanart in the Indigo exclusive edition is gorgeous. Okay, I had to start here, because it’s the first thing I noticed about my copy of the book. (This edition is also available at Books-A-Million in the US and QBD in Australia, or so I hear.)
I was peeved that I couldn’t seem to find where the artists were credited for the inclusion of their work on the endpapers, but I think I’ve found them out thanks to the Internet: Charlie Bowater and Merwild/Coralie Jubénot. Definitely check them out! And if you appreciate aesthetics in your book collection, then you might really love this edition. But on to more relevant things…
2. This book is focussed on battle and how to defeat the Bad Guys. There are definitely some…not so much character moments as friendship/relationship moments on the way, but this book is basically an adventure-to-adventure, battle-to-battle journey of trying to defeat the Bad Guys against enormous odds.
If that’s what you came out for, then you will probably enjoy this conclusion. I feel as if A Court of Thorns and Roses was almost all worldbuilding and slow character study (but at times dull, because Feyre really didn’t know herself at all), A Court of Mist and Fury was transitional with character backstories and moments as well as some adventure and new settings, and this book is very much about Quests and Battles with some moments to establish relationships and new places. You have been forewarned!
3. You will get to see a bit more of the setting than you have before. Although I feel like worldbuilding on a grander scale is likely a task Maas will save for the new books she’s writing in this world, there is some travel in this book and we do get to see some new places, which is always neat.
I feel like this series always played pretty fast and loose with worldbuilding, if we’re being honest, since there’s no real explanation beyond “magic” why a lot of things are the way they are, and we really don’t know the whole history of the Fae nations and their politics (and now is not the late-game time to learn all of that at once). But this first trilogy is much more character and plot-focused as a story, which is fine but really invites that elaboration in future, I think.
4. This book revisits almost every character/plot loose end I can remember. The words “happily ever after” will not be stamped at the end of this novel, I can assure you. But for the most part, this book does a lot to weave in and put to use each character with a dangling loose end in their plot, so it’s not going to leave most readers with a sense of, “But where did that guy go?”
They don’t all have major resolutions and reunions in their endings, and that does leave me mildly cautious that the coming Prythian-world books will deal with that. It’s not as if I’d dislike seeing these characters again, but I do prefer when new books in a similar world decide not to lean too much on pre-established characters and do their own thing. We’ll see what happens, though!
5. I think I liked the plot well enough, but perhaps didn’t love the weighting of the writing. I haven’t entirely decided all of my feelings on this book, because I just finished it. But I do know that I would much rather fade to black during a sex scene than during a political debate between important characters, so. Your feelings may not be my feelings. (Yes, there will be at least one sex scene and at least one political debate. Considering the amount of sex so far in these books and the fact that “Court” is right in the name, I really don’t think this spoils a dang thing!)
I think that a couple of new Fae that crop up at the end of book two kind of clutter up the landscape in book three, if I’m being honest. They end up a real part of the plot in this book, but I also think in some ways that their roles in that could’ve been fulfilled otherwise by previously involved characters, and the larger the ensemble, the less time each character has for development. Well, that, and I just didn’t love the whole plot point that brought them into the story and…yeah. There’s no spoiler-free way to discuss that I’m just not about all that.
6. There are definitely shipping moments, but there doesn’t seem to be a huge rush about it. I honestly felt a bit iffy at the end of book two about how neat the writing on the wall seemed to be about all the endgame (and straight) couples. But this book introduced some queer characters (late in the game, but hey, it’s something) and didn’t feel the need to immediately tie up every romantic possibility with a neat bow.
For those folks who absolutely need the spinning-in-the-air, happily-ever-after moment for each couple, this might be a downside. For me, this was a definite upside. I enjoy when love feels very earned between pairings and when romance isn’t too predictable.
7. High Fae are prideful to a fault and have huge tempers. If we didn’t know this from previous books, we know it now: this is not just Tamlin’s issue, and it affects a lot of characters and their ability to keep secrets or not make huge messes. Yikes.
8. I still have questions about everyone’s allegiances and motivations and why. How did all of the Bad Guys get so evil? Why did some people who aligned with Bad Guys change their minds? (Was it the evil lady from book one?) Why did some people think they could work with the Bad Guys given their leader’s moustache-twirling evil? I have Questions, and we faded to black on some of the answers.
9. I don’t know if it was the right ending for me, but I think a lot of people will be happy with it. I don’t have a way of discussing this without spoilers, I don’t think. But I do think that different people desire different things from endings to series they’ve gotten into. Some of us might be quite interested in how the humans will live alongside the Fae in the wake of these events; some might not care about that, but might care a lot about what will happen to certain secondary characters. Some of us might be invested in one couple over another, and so on.
Personally, there were some things I was more interested in that didn’t really seem to be the priority. And there were choices through the writing of this in general that I didn’t love. (I often felt distanced from the stakes in each situation for Reasons.) But because of most of the above (other than me having questions), I think most people will be satisfied with this last book.
In the end…
So I’m not going to really review this yet, because it’s still really fresh in my mind and there’s a reason why I usually round these things up at the end of the week!
I’ll say this much: I’m pretty sure I preferred book two, and I was hoping to spend more time in places/situations this book ran through quickly, while it dwelled with other things I was less interested in. But the same may not be true for others, so your mileage may vary.
Also, I ended up not that interested in the main villain of this book. So that was a bit of a downer. Not that the villain has to be the most interesting thing in a book, but it’s always more cathartic when characters beat someone you’re personally invested in them defeating.
I have…thoughts, but it’ll take some time for them to become coherent. In the meantime, I don’t want to step on anyone’s excitement for the end of this series, because let’s be real, if you got this far already, you’ve probably read the first two and you’re going to finish it off in any case. So go forth and find out for yourselves! We’ll talk about the whole series soon (and feel free to sound off in the comments below).